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June 2008 - Posts

Sudan Country profile
Map of Sudan

Sudan is the largest and one of the most diverse countries in Africa, home to deserts, mountain ranges, swamps and rain forests.

It emerged from a two-decade civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the Animist and Christian south, only to see fighting break out in the western region of Darfur in early 2003.

The north-south civil war is said to have cost the lives of 1.5 million people. In Darfur, The UN says more than two million people have fled their homes and more than 200,000 have been killed.

Southern rebels said they were battling oppression and marginalisation. After two years of bargaining, they signed a comprehensive peace deal with the government to end the civil war in January 2005.

AT-A-GLANCE
Darfur villager shows skulls from mass grave
Humanitarian crisis: Civil war in Darfur region is seen as "one of the worst nightmares in recent history"
Politics: Omar al-Bashir heads a unity government formed after a peace deal ended 20 years of southern civil war. An independence referendum in the south will follow a six-year period of autonomy
Economy: Oil production and revenues are rising

The accord provides for a high degree of autonomy for the south. The region will also share oil revenue equally with the north.

But in Darfur, pro-government Arab militias are accused of carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arab groups in the region.

The conflict has strained relations between Sudan and Chad, to the west. Both countries have accused each other of cross-border incursions. There have been fears that the Darfur conflict could lead to a wider, regional war.

Decades of fighting have left Sudan's infrastructure in tatters. With the return of millions of displaced southerners, there is a pressing need for reconstruction.

The economic dividends of peace could be great. Sudan has large areas of cultivatable land, as well as gold and cotton. Its oil reserves are ripe for further exploitation.

Sudan's name comes from the Arabic "bilad al-sudan", or land of the blacks. Arabic is the official language and Islam is the religion of the state, but the country has a large non-Arabic speaking and non-Muslim population which has rejected attempts by the government in Khartoum to impose Islamic Sharia law on the country as a whole.

President Omar al-Bashir has been locked in a power struggle with Hassan al-Turabi, his former mentor and the main ideologue of Sudan's Islamist government. Since 2001 Mr Turabi has spent periods in detention and has been accused, but not tried, over an alleged coup plot.

Sudan crash airline


Video still of plane on fire
An investigation is taking place into the cause of the crash in June

Sudan's national airline has been warned that all of its flights will be suspended from Monday for failing to comply with aviation requirements.

Sudan Airways has been told that it will not be allowed to fly unless it undertakes certain measures.

It comes less than two weeks after a Sudan Airways plane burst into flames after landing, killing 30 people.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the decision had nothing to do with the accident on 10 June.

Its director of safety and flight operations, Mohamed Hassan al-Mujammar, said Sudan Airways had failed to undertake measures outlined by the authority in an annual audit carried out at the end of May.

He said it was time to stop this type of non-compliance with international standards.

Safety record

As a result the company's Air Operators Certificate has been suspended from Monday, which will affect all international and domestic flights.

Mr Mujammar said the national carrier said it had been too preoccupied by the crash to take the actions urged by the CAA.

The airline has one month to appeal against the suspension or to carry out the necessary improvements.

No-one was available for comment from Sudan Airways.

An investigation into what caused the accident at Khartoum International Airport on 10 June is under way.

Sudan has a poor reputation for air safety, especially on domestic flights.

SUDAN: Concerns rising over Darfur restrictions


Photo: IRIN
Agencies fear conditions in the camps will deteriorate further as access is denied to them
KHARTOUM, 27 June 2008 (IRIN) - On a UN map of Darfur released this month, a patchwork of yellow and orange denotes locations with little or no humanitarian access. Compared with maps of previous years, vast new regions are labelled off-limits.

Humanitarian workers say that in terms of security and attacks on staff, the situation for aid agencies in Darfur has never been as bad as in the past 18 months, and their ability to reach people in need is at an all-time low.

“When it comes to hijackings, compound invasions, office invasions, attacks on humanitarians, abduction of humanitarians - in the first six months of this year the statistics are the same as for all of last year,” Mike McDonagh, chief of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Sudan, told reporters in Khartoum on 22 June.

"Vehicles are getting hijacked at the rate of almost one a day," Alun McDonald, a public information officer for OXFAM, told IRIN by email.

In some areas, the reach of humanitarian aid has been curtailed or eliminated entirely because of restricted movement. In May, after repeated hijackings prevented the delivery of food to Darfur, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reduced rations by 42 percent - a decision that affected 2.7 million Darfuris.

''We have to fly staff all over Darfur and it costs us over $100,000 a year. The Darfur crisis is five years old and it's becoming harder to raise funds, so every penny is vital''
“We do have food stocks in Port Sudan, Khartoum, El Obeid. Really the problem is taking this food into Darfur,” said Kenro Oshidari, the WFP representative in Sudan.

Oshidari said that although the Sudanese government had promised escorts to protect shipments of food into Darfur every 48 hours, these had not materialised and would be insufficient as trucks needed to move every day.

“Reinstatement of full rations will only happen when we’re assured of safe access and safe passage of the convoys to the destination,” said Ameera Haq, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Sudan.

NGOs are struggling to adapt humanitarian programmes to the restricted conditions. According to a June 2008 NGO briefing paper, the majority of humanitarian travel in Darfur is now via UN air services. Funding normally allocated to humanitarian programmes has subsequently been spent on higher operating costs.

"We have to fly staff all over Darfur virtually every day and it costs us over $100,000 a year," said McDonald. "The Darfur crisis is five years old and it's becoming harder to raise funds, so every penny is vital."

Repeated evacuations and programme suspensions have also led to the “remote management” of projects, McDonald said, where village committees or individuals are trained to deliver aid and later report back to the agency, or an “in and out” approach, when areas temporarily become safer.

Quality of aid declining

But despite these efforts, the amount and quality of aid is decreasing for many of the vulnerable in Darfur.


Photo: Derk Segaar/IRIN
Health problems are likely to increase
“It's really an issue about the quality of aid - when we have to go in, drop it and leave, there's little time for proper assessments and analysis and monitoring,” said McDonald.

“It also makes it harder to set up longer-term programmes. And naturally, if you only have a few days, then you prioritise the emergency life-saving aid like food and medicine, and don't have time to do other hugely important assistance such as education and long-term livelihoods projects.

“It keeps people going, but no more,” said McDonald.

On 22 June, the UN told reporters at a joint agency briefing that a “perfect storm” of factors, including the lack of humanitarian access, overcrowding in camps, limited water resources and a poor cereal harvest would likely lead to significant hardship.

“Four years into a massive operation where a half million tonnes of food has gone in every year, where on average a thousand expatriates have been on the ground with their 15,000 national colleagues, this is the year I think where we are going to see a reduction in [health] indicators as a result of this perfect storm,” said McDonagh.

Speaker of National Assembly to Address Symposium on Ethanol

Khartoum, June 27 (SUNA) - Speaker of the National Assembly, Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir, is due to address Sunday at the Green Hall at the premises of the National Assembly a symposium to be organized by the Committee of Industry, Investment and Foreign Trade at the National Assembly, in collaboration with the Kenana Sugar Company entitled : " Ethanol : the present and Future The symposium will also be addressed by the Managing Director of Kenana Sugar Company Mohammed Al-Mardi Al-Tigani, who will focus on the methanol fuel production. Number of working papers will be presented at the symposium by technical experts. MF/ MO

African Ministerial Council begins Meetings in Sharm Al-Shaikh

Cairo, June 27 (SUNA) - The Executive Council of the African Union Friday began its 13th session in Sharm Al-Shaikh city, Egypt, to prepare for the 11th African Union Summit on Monday. The Foreign Minister, Deng Alor, is heading Sudan delegation for the meetings of the African Union's ministerial council. At the opening sitting of the ministerial council's meeting, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul-Gait, underscored the important role of the AU Executive Council in boosting the joint African work and consolidating the cooperation between the African nations. Chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, said that the upcoming African Union Summit in Sharma L-Sheikh comes in a time when Africa is facing a number of important issues and challenges. He referred to the disputes in the African arena, including Darfur issue, and the progress achieved in the peace and security at the African level. Chairman of the African Economic Commission, Abdallah Jannet, stressed in his address at the opening sitting of the ministerial council's meetings the importance of confronting the challenges in Africa, especially the economic impacts of the world food crisis, calling for more efforts to increase the food production and adoption of new effective economic policies and strengthening to the cooperation between the African countries and the African Economic Committee and the African Development Bank. He also called for economic coordination of the economic policies between the African states toward reaching economic integration and progress. MO/MO

Jordan Expected to Lift Ban on Sudanese Livestock Shortly

Khartoum, June 27 (SUNA)- A Jordanian veterinary technical delegation would arrive in the coming days to get acquainted with the health procedure being adopted concerning the national livestock herd, prior to lifting the interim ban on the exports of Sudanese livestock and meat, said the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Animal Resources, Dr. Bashir Taha. In a statement to SUNA after his return from Jordan, Dr. Taha said that the efforts adopted by the Ministry of Animal Resources resulted in lifting of Saudi Arabia to its temporary ban on the Sudanese exports of goats, sheep and cattle, adding that the lifting of this ban was based on Sudan commitment to the required health conditions and standards. He referred to the recent visit of a Saudi technical veterinary delegation to Sudan and its visit to a number of states to get informed on the health situation of the health of the Sudanese livestock. MO/MO

Director of National Electricity Corporation says power will be back gradually

Khartoum, June 27 (SUNA) - General Director of National Electricity Corporation, Eng. Engineer Makawi Mohammed Awad, attributed the cuts of power in the capital and some states to natural circumstances because of torrential rainfalls and strong winds in the hydroelectric plants areas, a matter which resulted in the cut of the electricity currency since the first hours of Friday. Engineer Makawi said maintence teams are working to repair the damage, assuring that power has begun to return back to some areas and that the coming hours will witness return of electricity services all over the Sudan. He affirmed that by the end of the current year the phenomenon on regular electricity cuts will disappear with the intrusion of White Nile power line in the electricity network to replace the Blue Nile Line. MF/ MF 2:21 PM

Special Representative for Human Rights in Sudan to Arrive in Khartoum on Sunday

Khartoum, June 27 (SUNA) - The Special Representative for Human Rights to Sudan, Ms. Sima Samar would arrive in Sudan next Sunday in an ordinary visit which is second in the current year 2008 and the fifth since her appointment in the position. Ms. Samar would meet during her visit with number officials and get informed on the human rights situation in the country, prior to submitting her report to the Human Rights Council in next December. In a press statement to SUNA, the Rapporteur for the Consultative Council for Human Rights, Abdul-Moniem Osman Mohamed Taha, said that Sima Samar is due to meet with the Consultative Council for Human Rights and the national team in the first day of her visit, adding that she would visit Darfur states, Abyei area, the Blue Nile State and Juba. He said that the national team would inform Sima Samar with the accomplishments in the human rights field and the reform in different laws. MO/MO

Mali thump Sudan in Bamako

2010 World Cup logo
Mali beat Sudan to maintain their lead in Group Ten

Mali maintained their lead at the top of Group Ten of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers after beating Sudan 3-0 on Sunday.

The victory in Bamako took the Eagles to nine points at the summit of the table

New Barcelona signing Seydou Keita scored twice for Mali and Frederic Kanoute claimed the other.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Kanoute has now got five goals in four qualifying matches.

Meanwhile, Congo picked up a 2-0 win over Chad in the group's other game on Sunday at home in Brazzaville.

They won the game thanks to goals from Edson Deco Minge in the 13th minute and France Ibarra in the 67th minute.

Court to rule on Sudan border row

Map of Sudan

 

Officials from Sudan's north and south have said an international court should resolve a border row that threatened to drag the country back to civil war.

The dispute concerns the ownership of the oil-rich Abyei area. The government in Khartoum and officials in the south both claim it as their own.

Heavy fighting there last month left nearly 90 people dead and forced some 50,000 people to flee their homes.

The border dispute had threatened a fragile peace deal signed in 2005.

After years of deadlock, the two main parties in Sudan's north and south agreed to go to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague to resolve the Abyei dispute.

The arbitrators' first job will be to take a fresh look at an earlier failed attempt to reach a deal over the boundary, the BBC's Amber Henshaw in Khartoum reports.

A senior northern official has said that if the panel supported that existing ruling then it would have to be implemented, but if it rejected it, the arbitrators would have to draw up a new border.

At stake is control of a large part of Sudan's oil wealth, our correspondent says.

The agreement is part of a series of measures to defuse the situation agreed earlier this month, including plans to deploy police and a joint army battalion, which is expected to take full control of the town by the end of the month.

Sudan crash airline is grounded


Video still of plane on fire
An investigation is taking place into the cause of the crash in June

Sudan's national airline has been warned that all of its flights will be suspended from Monday for failing to comply with aviation requirements.

Sudan Airways has been told that it will not be allowed to fly unless it undertakes certain measures.

It comes less than two weeks after a Sudan Airways plane burst into flames after landing, killing 30 people.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the decision had nothing to do with the accident on 10 June.

Its director of safety and flight operations, Mohamed Hassan al-Mujammar, said Sudan Airways had failed to undertake measures outlined by the authority in an annual audit carried out at the end of May.

He said it was time to stop this type of non-compliance with international standards.

Safety record

As a result the company's Air Operators Certificate has been suspended from Monday, which will affect all international and domestic flights.

Mr Mujammar said the national carrier said it had been too preoccupied by the crash to take the actions urged by the CAA.

The airline has one month to appeal against the suspension or to carry out the necessary improvements.

No-one was available for comment from Sudan Airways.

An investigation into what caused the accident at Khartoum International Airport on 10 June is under way.

Sudan has a poor reputation for air safety, especially on domestic flights.